Growing up a PK, preacher’s kid missionaries were always my heroes. They would come to our church from foreign fields and talk about the unfamiliar cultures, show us slides of the people and area they served, and shared what God was doing. I always looked at them as supermen for God. If we were lucky, they brought with them MK’s, missionary kids and we got to hang out for a while.
Later, I was blessed to be involved in a church planting effort in Baton Rouge, LA. I learned some valuable lessons. First, missions work is HARD. I had it easy with a core group already in place, and we still faced obstacles existing churches didn’t. Land alone was going to cost over a million dollars in a decent location. I also learned missions doesn’t have to be around the world. Baton Rouge was similar to home. I didn’t have to learn a new language and had shared experiences with the people there. I did have to get used to coffee strong enough to walk the dog on its own, but I learned to love it. One of most important lessons learned was that we are all missionaries. Our mission field is wherever we are. Every member of the core group had to be on mission for God. That is the same as at every church.
That is at the heart of what Jesus said in Matthew 28:19-20 ““All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth. 19 Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” ESV
Our commission is make disciples wherever we go. We give offerings to send missionaries to other towns, states, and nations. That is good and should be encouraged. However, we must also do our part to share the gospel here. Wherever you find yourself, that is your mission field. As we give to support worldwide missions, let us never forget to serve as missionaries right here at home.
In an effort to reduce the number of cases going to trial, mediation has gained popularity. In mediation, a third party enters in and attempts to negotiate a settlement between the parties who are involved in a dispute. They seek to find a mutually agreed upon compromise and prevent the need for a full trial. Usually, there is a give and take to mediation where neither side gets exactly what they wanted. However, in 1 Timothy, Paul writes about a mediation in which one side gave all. “For there is one God and one Mediator between God and men, the Man Christ Jesus.” 1 Timothy 2:5. The dispute was between God and humanity. God’s justice demands that all who sin receive the wages of sin, death. Jesus mediated between God and us by paying the price for our sins on the cross. Since He had no sin of His own, His death could pay our penalty. God the Son paid for all of our sins, As Mediator, He says that all who trust Him will have eternal life.
That is gospel message we are to share with the world. What great news! Don’t allow social or ethnic differences be a barrier. Take the good news of Christ’s atonement to everyone.
“The saved are singled out not by their own merits, but by the grace of the Mediator.”
You prep for months. Special furniture gets purchased and assembled. A room gets painted, redesigned, and prepared. Finally the big day arrives and it happens. A new member of the family makes their debut. Then it hits you that you have just witnessed a miracle! A church is born!
This weekend I get to witness that miracle. The Purpose launches in Baton Rouge, La on Sunday. My brother, Joel is the founding pastor. It has been great to follow his journey from California to Baton Rouge. God stirred his heart for the unchurched in that city. This is pure pioneer work. When they hit the ground it was just his family of 4. They have connected with people, assembled a launch team, and rented a movie theater. This weekend it all comes to fruition.
Join with me in praying for The Purpose. Pray that they reach unchurched people and help them discover their reason to live. Pray that God opens a door for the gospel into the homes of the many unchurched families. Praise God for another Bible believing church joining the family.
I’m an American and the principle of having liberty is deep within my heart, I want to be left alone to succeed or fail without an army of bureaucrats coming in and interfering. I have an awesome mother and do not need the government to act as a helicopter mom for me. From the things I eat, the cars I drive, to the light bulbs I use, I want freedom! Leave me alone and I’ll leave everyone else alone
However, in discussing liberty in 1 Corinthians 10, Paul informs believers that we sometimes must voluntarily give up our freedom for the sake of the people we are with. In Corinth, most meat markets were selling meat from pagan temples. After blood or portions of animals were used in sacrifices, the rest would be sold at the market. Paul discussed the fact that the Corinthians were free to eat whatever they wanted with thanksgiving, He also advised that if their host mentioned the food had first been offered to idols, then for the conscience of their host, they should abstain. By mentioning it, the host obviously assumed it would be sinful to eat. The dilemma for the believer was to eat because it wasn’t sinful and be viewed to be an idol worshiper, or to abstain and fulfill the expectations of the host. A believer’s testimony would be hurt if he ate after being warned. Paul concluded the discussion this way, “Therefore, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God. Give no offense, either to the Jews or to the Greeks or to the church of God, just as I also please all men in all things, not seeking my own profit, but the profit of many, that they may be saved.” (I Corinthians 10:31-33 NKJV)
In our efforts to influence people for Christ, we sometimes will have to limit our freedoms. Instead of blatantly flaunting our freedom from ritualistic laws and customs, we need to consider the effect of our actions on the audience. Ultimately, we are advised to do all for the glory of God. Instead if seeking our own profit, we should seek the profit of all, “that they might be saved.”
Although I love my liberty, I will sacrifice it temporarily in order to win someone to Christ, After that, I will work on helping them embrace liberty as well.
Recently, I came across a new blog site, newsmallchurch.com. There, Karl Vaters offers encouragement to churches which are considered small. The standard definition of a small church is a church running 200, or less in attendance. I guess we are overqualified to be in that category! One of the key things of which I have been reminded is that size isn’t important. Our focus should never be that of the gunslinger looking get that next notch. In this case, it would be on our Bible rather than a pistol, but you see where I’m going. We aren’t in the head hunting business only worried about that next new member to add to our collection. The purpose of the church goes so much beyond getting people here. Newsmallchurch recently revisited the great commission and great commandments with a focus on the goal we should have. Here is what they said:
- Worship– to tell Jesus how much we love Him
- Discipleship– to help us become more like Jesus
- Fellowship– to love each other more
- Ministry– to meet people’s needs
- Evangelism– to bring people to jesus
The focus isn’t to do these things so we can grow, but rather do them so we can be healthy. Health should be our focus. If God chooses to make us larger, praise Him. If He chooses to let us stay the same size yet be healthier, great. These aren’t just random ideas. They come from the things to which the first church devoted themselves.
Acts 241-47 says, “41 So those who accepted his message were baptized, and that day about 3,000 people were added to them. 42 And they devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching, to the fellowship, to the breaking of bread, and to the prayers. 43 Then fear came over everyone, and many wonders and signs were being performed through the apostles. 44 Now all the believers were together and held all things in common. 45 They sold their possessions and property and distributed the proceeds to all, as anyone had a need.[p] 46 Every day they devoted themselves to meeting together in the temple complex, and broke bread from house to house. They ate their food with a joyful and humble attitude, 47 praising God and having favor with all the people. And every day the Lord added to them[q] those who were being saved.”
Yes, they had phenomenal numerical growth, but more importantly, they were healthy! That growth arose out of the health. In the early days of the church, they hadn’t yet divided into sects over ideas and prejudices yet. They hadn’t grown so sophisticated that they had traditions which ruled them. In those days of first steps, the believers loved God and each so much they were devoted to carrying out the great commission in the spirit of the great commandments.
I want to be like them! I’m not against growth. But I am concerned mostly with church health. If we are healthy, then God will show us our niche in the Kingdom and we will be successful in accomplishing it.